Definition

digital rights management (DRM)

Digital rights management (DRM) is a systematic approach to copyright protection for digital media. The purpose of DRM is to prevent unauthorized redistribution of digital media and restrict the ways consumers can copy content they've purchased. DRM products were developed in response to the rapid increase in online piracy of commercially marketed material, which proliferated through the widespread use of peer-to-peer file exchange programs. Typically DRM is implemented by embedding code that prevents copying, specifies a time period in which the content can be accessed or limits the number of devices the media can be installed on.

Although digital content is protected by copyright laws, policing the Web and catching law-breakers is very difficult. DRM technology focuses on making it impossible to steal content in the first place, a more efficient approach to the problem than the hit-and-miss strategies aimed at apprehending online poachers after the fact.

This was last updated in January 2009

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